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Reimagining Public Safety in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County: A Community Vision for Lasting Health and Safety

As acknowledged by the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, racism is a public health crisis in this region. Yet, rather than addressing the needs of the most oppressed citizens, the city and county continue to pour excessive funds into the police, who have played a central role in creating a fundamentally unsafe and unhealthy space for Black residents. We must decenter the police from the lives of Black people. Through steep cuts to police personnel and funding, the city and county can instead use those funds to meaningfully support the health and safety of communities. Rather than sending armed agents to respond to people experiencing crises, we should respond with unarmed, trauma-informed responders trained in conflict resolution, de-escalation, and harm reduction. Rather than waiting for neighborhood conflict that is an all but inevitable response to the public health crisis of racism, we must support peacebuilders and healers in our communities. We must go beyond crisis intervention to address the long-term needs of our communities through decentralized community service centers that bring together holistic responses to the diverse needs that underlie crises. Instead of trying to reform institutions that have created the public health crisis of racism in the first place, we must reimagine the concept of public health and safety.

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